Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fabio...I mean, Santurnino

If you've been to Santa Rita you would recognize the name Fabio as a little old man with a limp and a bad eye. If you spend any time there you would hear him tell his stories about bullet wounds, machete scars and the several times vehicles and cars have hit him and left him for dead. Today I got the whole story chronologically because Fabio is a Christian and wants to be Baptized!
Born in 1935 in Petén he married young and he and his new wife opened up a little store in their town. He also had a little land to farm and put some animals on it. However, he wasn't a very nice man and had a big drinking problem (his wife called him her poisonous thorn). That was the way he lived until he was around 25. He had a few kids by this point and one night decided he was going to go on vacation to visit his family by himself. He was heading out and one of his boys told him he had better take his little, old, dull machete with him to beat off dogs just in case. He hadn't gotten too far down the road when he was surrounded by young men with large machetes. Then commenced a fight where he killed one, seriously injured another before he blocked a machete blow with his shoulder instead of it hitting the back of his neck and was left immobilized in one arm. He was covered in blood by this point but then a flashlight was coming down the path and the other guys left.

It happened that it was one of his friends who got him to the hospital in San Benito. He was there for 23 days with IVs before he was allowed to go home. Shortly after he arrived another man with his same first and last name also was brought to the hospital but died overnight. His village heard that Santurino (his legal name) had been killed and he said his wife was relieved! After leaving the hospital he found that his wife had already been cheating on him before he was attacked, and she took his death as an opportunity for the other guy to move in to her house. So when he was released and got home, nobody was happy that he wasn't dead after all!

He wanted to kill them both but decided they weren't worth it so he told his wife she could just have the store and the animals and the house and he would move on. He moved in with his parents and having hit rock bottom he visited a new church in town and accepted Christ. He was studying his Bible earnestly, but then found out that somebody had given his name to the military and they were looking to kill him. He ran and took his kids with him as he joined the guerrilla movement in Guatemala, but after a few months of his kids being hungry and being eaten by mosquitoes in the jungle, he took them back and left them in the village.

During the war he had nothing but problems, but God spared his life many times. A few years into the war, he was with his guerrilla unit riding in a big truck, but instead of being in the back he was hanging on the outside. The truck went off the road and crashed. He woke up and saw another man looking down at him. The man told him that they were the only two that survived, the other 20 people were dead. A few minutes later that man started screaming that he was peeing blood and he soon died as well leaving Fabio as the only survivor. In various battles he was shot three different times.

During this time he desired to learn more about God, but he was not permitted to have a Bible as the guerrillas were and still are very anti-God. After the war he moved with his unit into the newly formed community of Santa Rita. Even though the war was over, they still would not permit anybody to learn of God and outlawed churches. During the next 12 years he would be hit by a car and a motorcycle while riding his bike in the dark, both times left for dead in the ditch.

This last time he felt the hit but didn't know what happened to him. All of a sudden he was walking alone on a path and he didn't know where he was going but he just kept walking. On the path he came across two men dressed in white and they asked him where he was going.

"Down this path", he said.

"You can't go down this path yet," they told him. "You still have work to do."

He turned around and started going back the other way and that is when he woke up on the ditch, covered in blood with a broken arm, a useless eye and blood pouring out of one ear.

A week after this happened he came to our Bible Study in Santa Rita where he had already been attending for a couple years. He had already told me that he was so happy he could finally learn about God again, after waiting for almost 50 years to continue what he had started. In this meeting he told me he felt God was leading him to give us half of his lot so that we could build a church building on it.

Up to this point we were borrowing a house in Santa Rita where the outside area was already filled to capacity and the lady wanted her house back. Once she took possession we would have had no place to hold our meetings.
{Ready for our Easter Drama}
A few weeks ago Fabio told me he didn't want to be called Fabio anymore. That was his guerrilla name and he doesn't want to be known by that any more, so we are to call him by his given name of Santurnino. He also said that he wants to be baptized. That was something he really wanted to do before the war and now, over 50 years later he finally in October will be able to take that step of obedience.

Santurnino once told me, several years ago, "Life is a rancid sore, but we have hope in Christ." I can't imagine the pain and suffering he has been through. It would have been merciful for God to have let him die in those painful situations, but I can't help but wonder if in God's plan for Santa Rita, he needed Fabio to survive so that he could have a church built in that village. I don't know the mind of God in this situation, but it sure looks like Santurnino suffered so much so that the people of Santa Rita would be saved. That puts, Oscar, Maria, Blanca, Claudia, Jesús, Armando, and all the others in Santa Rita who have also accepted Christ on Fabio's account simply because he desired a relationship with God and was sensitive to His working in his life.

It's the stories like this one that as a missionary give me encouragement when I am feeling down and make whatever sacrifices I think I'm making seem really insignificant.

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